During this past summer, I invited a number of very accomplished writers to share a book about writing that they have found particularly meaningful and useful. It has fascinated me that with two exceptions (Forster’s Aspects of the Novel and Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones) different books have been cited. (The 14 articles in the 2023 Summer Blog Series begin here.)
I suspect we all know there is no one way to write, and that every writer needs to find her/his way to work and create stories. This list of recommended titles by fine writers proves that.
Yes, it would be most instructive to go through all these books and see what they have in common. It would be a huge, time-consuming task, which, I hasten to say, I have no intention of doing. Be my guest.
There is, moreover, that old cliché, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” This has been defined as “the real value of something can be judged only from practical experience or results and not from appearance or theory.”
So for all you writers (and readers)—including myself—may I suggest, if your writing works, it works. But—my experience is that advice and criticism always help.
Here are the books cited.
Aspects of the Novel. E.M. Forster
Becoming a Writer. Dorothea Brande
Bird by Bird. Anne Lamott
Land of the Dead. Brian McDonald and Toby Cypress
Save the Cat Writes a Novel. Jessica Brody
The Secrets of Story. Matt Bird
The Sound on the Page. Ben Yagoda
Story. Robert McKee
A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. George Saunders
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. Christopher Vogler
Writing Down the Bones. Natalie Goldberg (2)
Writing Fiction. Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stucky-French
Writing for Story. Jon Franklin
Writing with Pictures. Uri Shulevitz
(Click on a cover to read the article by the author who chose that book.)